Jun. 25 1997
Washington, DC - In Congress’ first action on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Tobacco Rule, a House subcommittee today slashed the Administration’s funding request to enforce regulations curbing tobacco sales to children. Following the action, the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS sounded the June Tobacco Smoke Alarm on the subcommittee that failed to provide adequate resources to keep cigarettes out of the hands of minors. The budget request of $34 million was primarily for helping states enforce the identification check part of the FDA Rule. The ID provision, which is now in effect across the nation, requires retailers to check the photo identification of anyone purchasing tobacco who appears to be younger than 27 years of age. "This was the first congressional action on the FDA Rule, and the result was very disappointing. The failure to give states adequate funding for this important youth access provision is a troubling sign about Congress’ commitment to protect children from deadly tobacco products," said Bill Novelli, CAMPAIGN president. "For this reason, we’re sounding the June Tobacco Smoke Alarm on the subcommittee that failed to step up to the plate in the fight to protect kids from tobacco addiction." Novelli said, "If Congress is serious about keeping tobacco out of the hands of minors, it must be reflected in its budget priorities. The subcommittee had a clear choice between kids and tobacco and put the tobacco industry first. We are confident that as more Members of Congress realize the importance of stopping youth access to tobacco, our children will eventually win this fight." The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee approved $15 million for the FDA Rule, $19 million short of the original request. The CAMPAIGN singled out the actions of subcommittee member Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA), who offered an amendment that would have crippled enforcement of the FDA Rule ID check provision. Latham was subsequently persuaded to withdraw his amendment. "The influence of tobacco cash continues to loom large on Capitol Hill," said Novelli. "Today’s action is in contrast to the fact that 87 percent of the public agrees with the FDA policy that sets a national minimum age of 18 for the purchase of tobacco products and that mandates ID checks of all tobacco purchasers who appear to be under age 27." Novelli continued, "Right now, one out of every three kids that becomes a regular smoker will die from his or her addiction. Yet the subcommittee failed to provide funding to give states the necessary resources to battle tobacco sales to kids." Currently, kids can buy cigarettes and spit tobacco through vending machines and at retail outlets. A review of 13 studies of over-the-counter sales found that, on average, children and adolescents were able to successfully buy tobacco products 67 percent of the time. Despite the fact that it is against the law in all 50 states to sell cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to minors, young people purchase an estimated $1.26 billion worth of tobacco products each year. The Tobacco Smoke Alarm is sounded monthly and is aimed at exposing the tobacco industry’s efforts to sell more of its products to children directly through clever marketing -- and indirectly through its efforts to buy political influence. The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS can be reached by email at: TobaccoSmokeAlarm@TobaccoFreeKids.org. The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS is the largest initiative ever undertaken to decrease youth tobacco use in the United States. Its mandate is to focus the nation's attention and action on keeping tobacco marketing from seducing children, and making tobacco less accessible to kids.